Tag Archives: Krasnoyarsk

Stolby Nature Reserve, Krasnoyarsk

After our first failure at public transport in Krasnoyarsk, trying to get to the hydroelectric dam at Divnogorsk, we tried again the next day with a trip to Stolby Nature Reserve. We did all of our research the night before, cross referencing our guidebook, the nature reserve’s website (through google translate), and a website which plotted trips on Krasnoyarsk’s public transport. All of these told us that we needed to take either bus 19, 50, or 78, from the bus stop outside the Opera and Ballet Theatre. We made our way there by 10.30 and waited for 45 minutes with no sign of any of the bus numbers that we wanted… It was a very busy stop with buses arriving every couple of minutes but unlike most of the other bus stops in the city it didn’t have a sign listing the bus numbers which stopped there so it felt like there was nothing else that we could check.

We knew that the bus needed to cross the Communal Bridge to the other side of the River Yenisey to get to the nature reserve. The Opera and Ballet Theatre stop was just before the bridge so we’d seen all of the buses which crossed the river from there – what had we done wrong? At this point, I was almost ready to give up, but Andrew persuaded me that we should walk across the 2km long bridge and see if we could spot a bus going in the right direction from there. At the other end was a large roundabout, we crossed a couple of side streets and made our way to the main road which had a bus stop very close to the roundabout. Almost as soon as we got there a #19 bus arrived – hurrah at last! We got on, paid for our tickets and checked with the conductor that the bus went to Stolby receiving a nod in response.

20130610-082516.jpgOn the bus at last

After about half an hour on the bus, we checked again with the conductor, yes, she told us, four more stops. As we got off, she indicated to cross the road and told us 7km to the nature reserve. Great, that tallied exactly with the information about the reserve that we’d read. As we walked up the road opposite the bus stop, we were a bit surprised to see no signs pointing the way, but this is Russia and things are not always as clearly signposted as we’d like… After about 10 minutes of walking the road forked, again with no sign as to which way to go. After some debate, we took the rightmost, clearer track which passed behind some houses. Again, after a short walk, the clear track turned to the right with a footpath leading to the left. We knew that we needed to be heading uphill which meant taking the footpath. Hmm, it didn’t feel quite right that there wasn’t road access to the entrance of the reserve… We headed up the footpath anyway and after a short walk came to a clearing in the trees with a stunning view up the valley. Down below we could see a road leading through the trees heading in the direction we wanted – that’ll be the road we should be on then!

20130610-082549.jpgGreat view up the valley with the path that we need down below

We headed back down to the main road and a short distance along found the access road with ‘Stolby Nature Reserve’ sign at the entrance. By this point we’d wasted another hour, and with a 7km walk ahead of us before reaching the park we knew that we wouldn’t have long there before we had to come back. But it’s OK, the story has a happy ending and the day quickly began to improve. Within a few minutes walk up the path we started to see wildlife – a woodpecker, Siberian chipmunks (very cute!), butterflies, lots of different birds on a path side feeding table and even a small bat!

20130610-083247.jpgWildlife at Stolby Nature Reserve (clockwise from top left): Siberian chipmunk, butterfly, bullfinch on feeding table, Siberian nuthatch

20130610-083256.jpgA small bat flying overhead in the bright sunshine

Stolby is the Russian word for ‘pillar’ and the nature reserve takes its name from the giant boulder formations which litter the hill. They are similar to the ‘Kamennie Palatki’ in Yekaterinburg, and also reminiscent of Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire. The path to the nature reserve is described in our guidebook as ‘a gentle uphill walk’ and it does start that way, but the last couple of kilometres are pretty steep. That, coupled with a long flight of stairs up to the first pillar, meant we could definitely feel our calf muscles the next day! Locally, the pillars are popular with rock climbers, and many of Russia’s best rock climbers have come from Krasnoyarsk region having grown up with the Stolby. We tried a bit of rock scrambling ourselves and were rewarded with an incredible view.

20130610-084624.jpgAmazing view from the ‘Ded’, or ‘Grandfather’, rock

20130610-085051.jpgRock formations and a friendly squirrel

On the way back down to the road, we had another treat in store. We were approaching one of the feeding tables and saw what we thought was another squirrel munching through the sunflower seeds, but as we got closer we saw that it was a sable! Once highly prized for their fur, these animals are usually very shy.


After a frustrating start, the day turned out really well.

The 10 Ruble Tour

We don’t usually take guided tours. For one thing they’re generally pretty expensive so don’t fit into our regular budget, but also they usually try to cram a lot into a short time so that it can feel a bit rushed and one of the reasons that we’ve taken this trip is so that we can take our time – we can afford to travel by slower, cheaper public transport and absorb new places at a more relaxed pace.

But in Krasnoyarsk we decided to make an exception. We wanted to visit the hydroelectric dam at Divnogorsk about 40km away. Our guidebook informed us that to get there on our own we should take a hydrofoil from the city’s river station. We researched the times and found that the boats only ran 3 times a day at the weekend and that tickets are sold on board. On Sunday, we got to the river station at 1.45pm for the 2.30pm departure. Lots of locals were also queuing so when a boat pulled up at 2.15 we got on with everyone else. We were slightly perplexed when it pulled off straightaway – wasn’t it supposed to leave at 2.30? And when Andrew went to buy a ticket the lady told him that no this boat doesn’t go to Divnogorsk… To cut a long story short, we were on a kind of river bus which serves the bankside and island settlements of the Yenisey River and doesn’t travel as far as the dam. So when it turned around we bought a return ticket and treated it as an unexpected river cruise…

20130607-214251.jpgUs on our ‘river cruise’

20130607-210746.jpgKrasnoyarsk’s railway bridge and view upstream

With our attempts to get there on our own foiled, we emailed Anatoliy who runs SibTourGuide (also mentioned in our guidebook). He suggested that we might like to join a South African guest who he was taking on a ’10 Ruble Tour’ on the Tuesday as the trip to the dam is included in this full day excursion.

The Russian 10 ruble note (worth about 20p) features a number of places around Krasnoyarsk and Anatoliy has built an itinerary around these spots and others of interest.

20130607-210803.jpgAnatoliy showing us the sights on a 10,000 ruble note (the note was devalued to 10 rubles in 1998 but kept the same design)

Anatoliy collected us from our hostel and then we picked up the South African, Marius, from his hotel. The first port of call was the tiny Chapel of St Paraskeva Pyatnitsa which stands on a hill overlooking the city. It was built on the site of a watchtower which was part of the city’s 17th century fortress. Our visit was timed to coincide with the daily noon cannon firing which started in 2003 – the 375th anniversary of the founding of Krasnoyarsk. It was LOUD!

20130607-210815.jpgChapel of St Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, and cannon about to be fired

Of course one of the advantages of a tour is that you have an expert on hand to tell you the history and significance of the sights that you’re seeing, and if they’re good (and Anatoliy is), entertaining anecdotes to keep things interesting. From the chapel on the hill we made a few stops in the city – at the war memorial, on the riverside, and next to the steamship which is famous for carrying Lenin to his Siberian exile before the revolution, and also ferrying the last tsar, Nicholas II, across the Yenisey while he was still a prince and on his world tour.

20130607-210826.jpgWar memorial representing an armaments worker and a soldier, Andrew on a T-34 tank, graves of soldiers who died in Krasnoyarsk’s hospitals

20130607-210836.jpgSteamship Sv. Nikolay on Yenisey riverbank, ship’s bell, wheel housing

Next we headed over the Communal bridge (also featured on the banknote) and upstream for a couple of stops before reaching the dam. First was a lookout point featuring spectacular views and a large sculpture of a sturgeon, or ‘King Fish’ as it is known in Russian. From the lookout point we could also see the village of Ovsyanka, the home of celebrated Russian author, Viktor Astafyev, who wrote books telling of the life of real Siberian people in Soviet times and was treated as a mentor by Russian leaders in his old age. His home is now a museum of how life was in the first half of the 20th century.

20130607-210845.jpgUs at the lookout point

20130607-210857.jpgSturgeon monument

20130607-210906.jpgAstafyev museum (clockwise from top left): Anatoliy explaining the importance of the samovar, cow bells of differing sizes (to make different noises so that everyone could recognise their cow), portrait of Viktor Astafyev, outdoor tools

The town of Divnogorsk was built for the construction of the dam which started in 1961 and was completed between 1968-72. We made four stops here. First in the town itself, next in front of the dam which is currently the 6th largest in the world in terms of production capacity (when it was built it was the 2nd largest). Here we also got some great views of eagles circling overhead.

20130607-220424.jpgUs in front of the dam

20130607-220523.jpgGolden Eagle circling over River Yenisey

The third stop was at the side of the dam to get a good view of the boat lift. This is something like a giant bathtub that takes barges up to the top of the dam and back down to the river. Unfortunately we didn’t see it in action as it is not used so much nowadays (more of the freight traffic is by road than river now). Finally we made a stop behind the dam at the incredibly peaceful Krasnoyarsk Sea, the lake formed by the dam.

20130607-221117.jpgThe boat lift track

20130607-220546.jpgKrasnoyarsk Sea

Thanks to Anatoliy and Marius we not only had an excellent day of sightseeing, but very interesting conversations ranging from 20th century Russian politics to game hunting in South Africa!